Seasons greetings, Polygon readers! This week sees Violent Night, the “Santa Claus meets Die Hard” action comedy starring David Harbour (Stranger Things) as a not-so-jolly Saint Nick, finally arrive to streaming on Peacock. Talk about seasonal drift! If watching the anthropomorphic embodiment of Christmas cheer murdering a group of mercenaries doesn’t quite sound like your idea of leisure viewing, not to worry— there’s tons more new movies to stream and rent on VOD this weekend.
JUNG_E, the new sci-fi action thriller from Train to Busan and Hellbound director Yeon Sang-ho, arriving this weekend on Netflix, Alex Garland’s freaky folk horror film Men on Showtime, the horror-thriller Old Man starring Stephen Lang (Avatar, Don’t Breathe) on AMC Plus, as well as recent releases on VOD like Aftersun, The Menu, and Till for a reduced price.
Here are the new movies available for you to watch at home this weekend.
New on Netflix
Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix
Run time: 1h 38m
Director: Yeon Sang-ho
Cast: Kim Hyun-joo, Kang Soo-yeon, Ryu Kyung-soo
Set in the distant future, this new sci-fi action thriller from the director of Train to Busan and Hellbound follows a legendary soldier whose mind is preserved after death by her daughter and brought back to life as an army of cyborg drones. When the original mind yearns for freedom, she’ll have to battle herself and an unscrupulous military scientist in order to win her freedom and possibly humanity’s future.
From our review:
JUNG_E opens with [an] exciting battle scene, and closes with a bigger, better action sequence, with slightly cartoony but effective (and when needed, appropriately weighty) visual effects. Yet it’s not exactly an action movie. In the long stretch between instances of mayhem, it goes through a lot of world-building, contemplative drama, and some plot twists that intentionally undermine both the characters’ and the audience’s expectations about where the story might logically be headed.
New on Peacock
Where to watch: Available to stream on Peacock
Run time: 1h 52m
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Cast: David Harbour, John Leguizamo, Beverly D’Angelo
David Harbour stars as Santa Claus in this action movie from 87North Productions, the legendary Hollywood action studio that brought you many of your favorite parts of John Wick and other recent action classics.
From our review:
Violent Night works best when it captures the warped sensibilities of early-’90s Chris Columbus movies, particularly Home Alone. It’s been pointed out so often that it barely needs to be said that the events of that film are actually horrifically traumatizing and violent, and that Macaulay Culkin’s Kevin McCallister is a pint-size sociopath. Little Trudy Lightstone has a sadistic streak in her, too, and the film’s most demented scenes are played with an outsized sense of cheer that effectively creates a sense of giggly discomfort. The difference here is that those moments are being engineered on purpose. The film has fun lobbing snarky one-liners and outrageous bloodshed at the audience, but on the whole, Violent Night’s big red bag of self-aware tricks is overstuffed.
New on Showtime
Where to watch: Available to stream on Showtime
Genre: Folk horror
Run time: 1h 40m
Director: Alex Garland
Cast: Jessie Buckley, Rory Kinnear, Paapa Essiedu
Alex Garland’s 2022 folk horror thriller stars Jessie Buckley (I’m Thinking of Ending Things) as a recently widowed woman who travels to a rural village in the English countryside to recuperate. Little does she know, however, the strangely all-male denizens of this quaint little town (all portrayed by Rory Kinnear of Black Mirror fame) are about to bring her face-to-face with her greatest nightmare.
From our review:
Men carries some echoes of other recent horror films, particularly the ones built around small, telling aggressions that represent larger splits in society. It resembles Jordan Peele’s Get Out in some structural ways: Just as Get Out’s Black protagonist Chris clings to his phone contact with his Black friend Rod (Lil Rel Howery) as a lifeline when he’s out of his element in a white country enclave, Harper gets her only support via phone from her friend Riley (Gayle Rankin), the one other significant woman in the film. (Other notable similarities can’t be discussed without spoilers.) And the lush environs, gender tension, the focus on grief and ways to express it, the boiling anger below the surface, and the resultant primal screaming all recall Ari Aster’s Midsommar, another film soaked in dread and a sense of inevitability.
New on AMC Plus
Where to watch: Available to stream on AMC Plus
Run time: 1h 37m
Director: Lucky McKee
Cast: Stephen Lang, Marc Senter, Liana Wright-Mark
Not to be confused with the 2022 drama thriller series starring Jeff Bridges, this 2022 horror thriller follows the story of Joe (Marc Senter), a lost traveler who happens upon the remote cabin of an elderly man living alone in the woods. Joe gets more than he bargained for, as the old man has something far more sinister in mind than being a simple good samaritan.
New on VOD
Aftersun (reduced price)
Run time: 1h 42m
Director: Charlotte Wells
Cast: Frankie Corio, Paul Mescal, Celia Rowlson-Hall
Polygon’s No. 8 best movie of the year, an impressive feature debut from filmmaker Charlotte Wells, is finally available to watch at home. I’ll let our blurb for Aftersun speak for itself.
The human memory is, famously, unreliable — faulty to the point of being thrown out even when it’s your sworn testimony. Childhood memories are perhaps the best example of this: Even a small, isolated memory can completely change tone later when seen with the full spectrum of adulthood, filtered through the prism of concern and care that comes with it. It’s a tough concept to wrap your brain around at times. And so Aftersun feels like a small miracle in the ways it not only captures that scope but manages to frame the whole concept with grace.
Young father Calum (Paul Mescal) and his 11-year-old daughter Sophie (Frankie Corio) are on a rare resort vacation, a fading moment captured by her on a clunky camcorder (at least partially; you know what it’s like to hand a kid a video camera). While that plot is simple in construction, the execution of it is far more profound, capturing the wistful vantage points of both Calum’s and Sophie’s experiences on holiday with equal, vivid clarity. In Aftersun’s hands, memory is just as slippery as it’s always been. Sometimes conversations wash over Sophie and threaten to drown Calum; growing up is seeing the full picture of their trip, and Aftersun is quietly devastating in its ability to capture that. It’s a testament to the performances at the center of it (Mescal’s compassionate weariness most of all) that the film manages to suggest so much without overstating its point. After all, memory may be unreliable, but sometimes memory — echoed in a grainy camcorder or the recollection of a warm embrace — is all we have.
Genre: Crime/fantasy drama
Run time: 1h 41m
Director: Del Kathryn Barton
Cast: Julia Savage, Simon Baker, Yael Stone
This drama follows the eponymous Blaze (Julia Savage), an imaginative 12-year-old girl, who is traumatized after inadvertently witnessing a woman being assaulted in an alley in her neighborhood. Cared for by her father (Simon Baker), she retreats into the security of her own fantasies as she attempts to grapple with the horrors of what she witnessed and the greater cruelties of the world at large.
Kids vs. Aliens
Run time: 1h 15m
Director: Jason Eisener
Cast: Dominic Mariche, Phoebe Rex, Calem MacDonald
Looking for some more ’80s throwback sci-fi horror with a requisite synthwave score à la Stranger Things? Well, take a gander at the new movie from Hobo With a Shotgun director Jason Eisener about a group of kids whose raucous slumber party takes a turn for the worse when bloodthirsty aliens descend on their quiet little suburb in a plot to take over Earth.
Genre: Dark comedy/horror
Run time: 1h 47m
Director: Mark Mylod
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicholas Hoult
Anya Taylor-Joy (The Northman) stars opposite Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max: Fury Road) as Margot, a young woman who is invited on a “date” with a wealthy food snob named Tyler (Hoult) to eat at Hawthorne, an exclusive restaurant owned by reclusive world-renowned chef Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes). It’s not long, though, before they realize that Slowik has something else in mind for them besides overpriced oysters and beef bourguignon.
From our review:
The Menu often reads like an expansive version of a single-set play, where a group of people forced into close proximity gradually crack under pressure and reveal new things about themselves. A lot of what keeps it going isn’t that stagey energy, but the staging itself. production designer Ethan Tobman was inspired by everything from Luis Buñuel’s devastating 1962 film The Exterminating Angel (another film about smug elites who can’t escape each other) to German expressionist architecture. He and cinematographer Peter Deming give the film a harsh, punishing chilliness that emphasizes both the lack of comfort or warmth in haute cuisine and the state of Chef Slowik’s mind. It’s an appropriately sumptuous and sense-driven film, with something striking to look at in every frame.
Genre: Biographical drama
Run time: 2h 10m
Director: Chinonye Chukwu
Cast: Danielle Deadwyler, Jalyn Hall, Frankie Faison
Danielle Deadwyler stars in Chinonye Chukwu’s biopic drama of Mamie Till, the woman who campaigned for justice after the violent lynching of her son, Emmett Till, while visiting family in Mississippi.